Friday, August 29, 2014

Lemon Squares (Gluten/Dairy/Corn Free)

It has been almost three months since I shared a recipe with you guys. I officially suck. It seems that ever since I stopped Foodie Fridays, I've totally slacked on posting anything food or recipe related, unless it's a picture of my supper I ate. I apologize for that and hope to do better come fall. I need to work on trying more recipes and making better food. I feel like we've been eating a lot of "whatever" meals lately and it's time to bring back some tasty meals!

Anyways, enough venting about how I don't share enough food related posts with you and on to actually sharing a recipe. It's a good one too - lemon squares.

Oh and I should totally apologize in advance for the crappy pictures. They don't do the squares justice but I had lost my natural light and needed to get them in the freezer before I ate them all. Seriously, I cannot be left around fresh lemon squares and be expected to resist the temptation to eat them all.

See picture below for proof of how much I ate before getting around to photographing them for you.

:::hangs head in shame:::

Back to the recipe. So it's not actually a gluten/dairy/corn free recipe but I tweaked it so that it would work for me. And by tweaked, I mean I substituted most of the ingredients for ones I could have. It was a lot of work but I had a pretty big hankering for some lemon squares and felt the effort would be worth the result.

Lemon Squares

1 c. flour
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. powdered sugar

2 eggs
1 c. white sugar
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour, butter and powdered sugar together. Press into greased 8x8 pan and bake for 20 minutes. Mix remaining ingredients together and pour onto baked crust. Return to oven and bake for another 25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack and then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into squares and enjoy!

So as you can see from the above recipe, it's pretty simple to make. But when you can't eat half the ingredients in their natural form, it gets a little trickier. You see, I had to substitute the butter for Earth Balance and the flour for a gluten free mix. I used my magic flour mix that you can only buy in Sherbrooke, Quebec, but works oh so well and I was once again pleased with the results.

Not too hard to swap out those few ingredients, right? Right. But the next part was where it got a bit more time consuming. You see, normal powdered sugar and baking powder both have corn in them. I make my own baking powder and keep a small stash of it in the cupboard so that was easy enough. But the powdered sugar? I had to make my own. And it made a mess.

I didn't get any photos of the process but you can picture it if you like. Imagine me putting 1/2 c. of white sugar and 1 Tbsp. of arrowroot starch into my food processor, pressing start and walking away for a bit. Only to return to a great cloud of whiteness surrounding the food processor and realizing that it isn't airtight and of course it would seep out. Oops! I turned it off, let the dust settle and carefully poured my "powdered sugar" into a mason jar. Then wiped down the base, the counter, the stove...

Other than having to work harder on the ingredients, the whole making of the lemon squares went pretty smoothly. The shortbread crust even turned out better than I had thought it would.

They were totally worth the extra time needed to make them because they taste so dang good! They have 100% filled my craving for lemon squares and I was pretty proud of myself for adjusting the recipe so that I could have them.

Even though the crust was a little crumblier than normal, I'd say they were a success. And for those of you who can eat anything they want, the original recipe works like a charm. You should make some. Today. You know you want to.

What is your favourite kind of square? Lemon squares, date squares, brownies, rocky road, rice krispie squares, nanaimo bars? Do tell.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Simple Pleasures - August 28, 2014

Once again I'm pushing it for getting my simple pleasures up before the end of the month. Am I the only one who finds the months flying by though? I swear I just did July's simple pleasures not too long ago...

Anyways, this month I mostly focused on my camping gear and actual camping. It wasn't on purpose, I just found these things made me smile so much, I had to share.

My new sleeping bag

My HUGE fish I caught!

An evening canoe ride

Onions hanging on the porch. This sight makes my heart full.

New camping gear (water bottle, air mattress and sleeping bag)

A BLT sandwich

My 30ish tomatoes
Another month done. I'm pretty sure it will be the end of September before we know it. What are YOU smiling at lately?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What's Growing Wednesday

My garden is slightly overwhelming me with tomatoes. Seriously, this heat that has come back (which I'm totally not complaining about) has helped ripen my tomatoes and I'm picking a basket full every few days.

Which means my counters are filling up with tomatoes every few days and then I have to deal with said tomatoes. While I know that I will enjoy the canned tomatoes this winter, it gets tiring having to can so often. I'll stop complaining now, I know that I am fortunate with how well my garden is doing.

Our zucchini is finally doing something, the flowers are getting bigger and tiny little zucchini have started. I find these plants to be so pretty.

Our peppers are also catching up with the rest of the garden. The jalapeno has some small ones on it and some of my other plants are finally beginning to change colours. I hope this heat wave keeps up long enough to ripen the rest of them.

Our carrots that survived the second planting are thriving and becoming huge. I have to start picking and eating more carrots! They're not all this big, but this one concerned me.

I'm happy with the progress my garden is making and I'm happy for all the veggies I'm harvesting and storing up for the winter. My cold room and freezers are filling up nicely and it makes me feel awfully proud.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gluten/Dairy/Corn Free Camping Menu

After yesterday's blog post about our camping weekend, I thought I should go into a little more detail about the food we ate and how I planned meals for us for the entire weekend while following my dietary restrictions.

At first, I kind of freaked out and decided there was no way that we could actually feed me all weekend while living out of a cooler and cooking over a campfire but I eventually calmed down enough and started doing some research. And by research I mean looking at Pinterest for inspiration. I finally made up a meal plan that both Dan and I were comfortable with and I got to work on it.

Friday night dinner was a quick easy meal of sausages, baked potatoes and grilled veggie kabobs. Simple and yet tasty.


Saturday morning breakfast was cereal with blueberries, another simple one and easy to pack too. We had pre-measured our cereal into individual baggies and each had our own mason jar of milk. Worked like a charm.

Lunch on Saturday was sandwiches, veggies and hummus.

Saturday supper, delicious hamburgers! This one took a little more planning since I had to pack some condiments and toppings for us but it was totally worthy it and oh so tasty.

I'm pretty sure we were the envy of our neighbours. Maybe not but I like to think so.

Sunday breakfast was amazing! We went all out and had scrambled eggs, bacon and bannock. The bannock was the total hit and is going to be my new go to camping food.

It tasted way better than this picture looks

If you want to make this bannock yourself, I found the recipe from this website and it worked really well with the gluten free flour I used. I highly recommend giving it a try on your next camping trip or backyard fire.

We also had snacks of chips, granola bars, apples, trail mix and fruit cups and we were never hungry, so I think it was a success.

I learned some stuff from this camping trip and will do a few things differently next time. Like figure out a way to keep all our food colder for most of the weekend. Any tips from anyone on that? Or any other recipes or meal ideas you would like to share? What's your favourite thing to cook over an open fire?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Camping Weekend

Many moons ago (a.k.a. summer 2010), we bought a tent with great intentions of using it regularly. Except for that didn't happen thanks to some miscarriages, health issues, moving, etc. In fact, we didn't use it once until the summer of 2012. And even that was a little lame, since we camped out in our backyard. I'm sad to say that the backyard camping was the last time I slept in our tent, and that was two years ago!

All that to say, we were due for a camping trip together. This was our first summer in a long time that we have actually been able to do fun stuff together, since I'm not sick or have a sprained ankle, so we have been taking advantage of it. Dan goes backcountry camping every summer with some guy friends, but it's been ages since I've camped. We opted to go to a campground though, since I'm not quite ready for backcountry yet. We tried to line it up to go with some friends, but our schedules didn't mesh so it ended up being just Dan and I. Oh and Mia.

We had an awesome little campsite and we happily set up our tent and eating area. We fortunately arrived early on Friday so we got everything set up by early afternoon and then could explore for the rest of the day.

Our exploring involved walking around the campground in order to find out where the nearest bathrooms were and then heading out in the canoe. We paddled around the small bay and fished for a bit. I caught a HUGE fish too! It was all pretty thrilling, considering I rarely fish and even then only usually catch tiny little rock bass if anything. But I was sitting there in the canoe, lazily casting out while chatting with Dan and all of a sudden I had something on my line. It fought pretty hard and I was sore and exhausted by the time I got it in, but it was totally worth it for the photo shoot.

I caught myself a Northern Pike that was about 30 inches long and probably around 5 lbs. Don't I look proud? And a little scared too. We didn't eat it though, I let it back into the wild and waved at it as it swam away. It totally made my afternoon weekend.

We paddled around a little more before heading back to the campsite. After all, I was pretty exhausted from my fishing adventure.

The really cool thing about our site was that we had access to the lake from it. I mean, it was a round about sort of access but still, we didn't need to carry the canoe half a kilometre down to the boat launch. Our site backed onto a marshy area and there was a tiny path down to the water from it. From there, we could paddle along amongst the lily pads for a bit and then came out onto the lake. It was great!

Little pathway to the marsh where we launched our canoe

The marshy area we had to go through to get to the lake
The campground had a cute little walking path that went through another marsh area and we traipsed along there quite regularly. Since Mia had to be kept on a leash at all times, we went for a lot of walks to give her exercise. When we were at the camp site, we played ball with her too but it was trickier with her on a leash.

It was a little chilly Saturday morning but by the afternoon it had warmed up considerably. We headed off site for a bit to do some geocaching and give Mia some time off leash, but I forgot to take any pictures from that time. We found 4 geocaches though, so it was a productive time away.

Once we were back at our site, we curled up in the tent for a while and read. We're still working our way slowly through the book we're reading together, but this weekend definitely gave us a good jump ahead in it.

While we read in the tent, Mia napped outside. When she wasn't intently staring into the bushes that is.

It was a really fun weekend of relaxing and spending time together. We mostly just fished, walked, read and ate all weekend.

Dan and Mia "cuddling"

I totally caught the biggest fish of the weekend

Doing dishes by the fire

Eating hearty meals!

Cooking over an open fire makes everything taste better

The sun was so nice Sunday morning
It was a fabulous weekend and has got me a little hooked on camping. We are already trying to figure out a time to go camping in September with those friends who couldn't make it this weekend. Who knows, maybe by next summer I'll be ready to try backcountry camping again!

P.S. Be sure to swing back by tomorrow morning to read all about how I planned and pulled off a gluten/dairy/corn free camping menu!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Addicted to Screens

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one out there who spends WAY too much time on the computer, watching TV/movies or playing on their phones. Most days I can convince myself that it's really not that bad and it is how I keep in touch with so many people, via Facebook or email. But on a whole, I know I have a problem with spending too much time staring at some sort of screen.

I keep telling myself that I will do better tomorrow, that tomorrow I will shut off my computer and leave my phone sitting on the counter. But tomorrow comes and I spend just as much time on all my separate screens as I did the day before, sometimes even more.

So I've been thinking of ways to try and break this habit, to step away from technology a bit and learn to spend more time doing other things. Things like housework, gardening, reading, etc. I've tossed around the idea of giving up Facebook but in reality, I know that I wouldn't actually want to do that, since I'm in contact with a lot of my friends through Facebook only. I don't want to give up the computer entirely either, since I have this blog to keep up with and I wouldn't want to take that away from all of my readers.

So I have come up with a plan. I'm not sure how well this plan will actually work, but it's worth a shot right? Instead of just talking about spending less time in front of screens, I want to start putting those words into action. Starting next week, I'm going to choose one day (Tuesday) and not use my phone, computer or TV at all for the whole day. The only exception being my phone, if it rings. Other than that, it will be a screen free day. The plan is to keep this up for a while and spend every Tuesday without all the screens around me.

Maybe over time I will get more used to it and it will feel less like a punishment and I will be able to add in more days of freedom. Or maybe I'll realize it isn't working and give myself designated screen times each day but the remainder of the day is free. Who knows, I'm just flying by the seat of my pants here. I'm going to take it one day at a time.

Anyone else ever try or are trying to spend less time on their screens? Any tips or advice for me? Anyone want to join in on my personal challenge?